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Dodgers unsure if Hanley, Ethier will play Game 3

Dodgers unsure if Hanley, Ethier will play Game 3

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Dodgers unsure if Hanley, Ethier will play Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, down 2-0 in the National League Championship Series, are preparing to play Monday night's Game 3 without Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier in the starting lineup.

Both were out of Saturday's Game 2, during which Ramirez had X-rays of his ribs. The X-rays were negative, but unconvinced because of intense pain, they had him take a CT scan Sunday. If they have the results, they weren't saying at Sunday's optional workout, in keeping with team policy to leave opponents guessing whenever possible, for whatever advantage that gains.

Ramirez was hit on the left side of his rib cage below the armpit with a 95 mph fastball from Joe Kelly in Game 1 on Friday night. He stayed in the game and played all 13 innings, but said the pain increased as the game went on. He was unable to swing a bat Saturday and missed Game 2.

NLDS
Ramirez said he very much wants to play, but it hurts badly to swing, as much Sunday as it did Saturday. Usually, the latter overcomes the former for a power hitter. Even if the ribs aren't broken, Ramirez's rare bat speed is sure to be compromised if he tries to play.

"I couldn't move. I couldn't finish my swing," Ramirez said of his Saturday attempt, adding that he didn't even try to hit Sunday. "Every time I rotate, it doesn't feel good. I think it's one of the toughest injuries I've ever had. When I'm sleeping, I'm still feeling it. Even when I stand up or do anything, I feel it. Every movement that I do, it doesn't feel good."

On the other hand ...

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to get in the lineup and go out on the field in front of our crowd and try to win," he added. "Even if it's cracked or something, I'm going to be able to go out there if we can take the pain away. We're just working on that so I can go."

Ramirez said it also hurts when he reaches to catch a ball, evidenced by his wince when he pulled down a Matt Holliday liner in the first inning of Game 1.

With him playing hurt in Game 1 and not playing in Game 2, the Dodgers' offense was impotent against the power arms of the Cardinals, as they pitched around Adrian Gonzalez and exploited rookie Yasiel Puig and veteran Juan Uribe.

Nick Punto would replace Ramirez at shortstop and Skip Schumaker would start in center field for Ethier.

"I can put my pride aside and know we're a better team with Hanley Ramirez in the lineup," said Punto. "For me, he was the best offensive player in the league this year. He just didn't play a full season, or he wins the MVP. I'm not coming in to fill his shoes. I'll just do my part, whatever it takes."

Ethier, hampered for a month by a microfracture of his lower left leg, also was examined Sunday and is again questionable for Game 3. He missed Game 2 after playing nearly the entire Game 1 in his first start since Sept. 13.

Mattingly sounded doubtful that Ramirez could be the offensive force the Dodgers need, even if the CT scan results were negative.

"If this thing comes back and it's something that he just can't play, there are certain things that you're not going to be able to play. So no matter how much Hanley wants to play, there are certain things you're not going to be able to play with. You've got to be able to swing the bat," said Mattingly.

"Just coming from my standpoint as a player, if you're at a point where you know you can't really do a lot more damage or if you can do damage, it's a different story than if you can't do damage, because then it's a matter of can you play? It's probably going to be a pain thing and the whole thing. We're just going to have to wait and see with him."

Mattingly sounded nearly as pessimistic about Ethier's ability to contribute. Although he played in Game 1, he still appears significantly limited rounding bases and turning on balls hit to either side of him in the outfield. Offensively, his power hasn't returned either.

"Andre is seeing them also, he says he's better, but we'll see where this thing goes and if he's able to go tomorrow also," said Mattingly on Sunday. "He's going to be day to day. Not necessarily a game-time [decision], but we won't make decision until tomorrow."

Said Ethier: "It's frustrating for me and I think it's getting frustrating for the team, too, just not having the consistency of the same lineup we need out there every day. Yesterday we tried to figure something out and we just didn't feel like I was able to defensively go out there and play the way they expect me to."

Mattingly rejected the suggestion his club had a psychological letdown in Game 2 after learning that Ramirez was scratched from the lineup.

"If Hanley's not playing and Andre's not playing and Matt [Kemp]'s not in, obviously, we're not the club we can be," said Mattingly. "But this time of the year, it's just not a time for excuses. At the end of the day, you either win or lose; that's the way our approach has to be. We've got to find a way to be able to do it with Hanley or without Hanley -- simple as that. Excuses of Hanley and a psychological letdown will not do you any good. We had chances to win the last two games and just didn't get it done. Didn't get the hit we needed."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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